Aleix Espargaro

Assen MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Quartararo vs Espargaro, Outstanding Ducatis, And Big Crowds

The Circuit van Drenthe, or the TT Circuit, as the glorious ribbon of asphalt to the south of Assen is officially known, always delivers, and Sunday was no exception. We had an outstanding Moto3 race, where the main championship contenders and promising youngsters broke away and fought down to the wire. We had one of the best Moto2 races in a long time, with action all the way to the finish. And we had an eventful, dramatic MotoGP race that saw some incredible battles from front to back of the field. It was a good day.

Adding a little spice to proceedings was the kind weather which is so unique to Assen. The race started dry, but the rain radar showed a very light shower heading for the track and likely to hit at around the two-thirds distance mark. It rained alright, but it was the worst kind of rain: the kind that leaves lots of spots on your visor, but barely touches the track. If you can blot the rain out from your mind, you can keep pushing just as hard, but it takes enormous mental strength and conviction. Worth the effort, though: even in the midst of the drizzle, riders were still posting 1'32s.

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Sachsenring MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Why The Sachsenring Was 2022 Condensed, Ride-Height Failures, Hot Hondas, And Events vs Races

With the Sachsenring done and dusted, we have reached the halfway point of the 2022 season. A quick dash from the east of Germany to the northeast of The Netherlands, and then MotoGP goes on a longer than scheduled summer break.

If the German Grand Prix marked the halfway point of the 2022 season – the median, if you will – then the result might be classified in statistical terms as the mode: the most frequently occurring value in a set of results. If you had to sum up the MotoGP season so far, this is what it would look like.

I have a long motorcycle journey on Monday, so below are a few quick notes after the German GP, and what precisely makes it the modal MotoGP race. But also, some of the factors which make it atypical. And a sign of hope for the future of the series.

In these notes:

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Sachsenring MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why Are Ducatis So Fast Around The 'Ring?

Conventional wisdom has it that the Sachsenring is a tight and twisty track. Slow, tortuous, and difficult. "It's like a riding on a Supermoto track!" Raul Fernandez said after his first experience riding a MotoGP bike around the German circuit. What had felt like a short straight between Turns 7 and 8 on a Moto2 bike was an entirely different experience on a MotoGP machine. "In MotoGP it's like super fast. It's like not a straight, like a corner."

As is usually the case, the conventional wisdom has only a passing acquaintance with the reality of the situation. Yes, the Sachsenring is tight and twisty. But as Tech3's Fernandez points out, it is also much faster than it seems. Jerez has a lower top speed, for example. And Jerez, Le Mans, Valencia all have slower average speeds.

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Lin Jarvis Interview, Part 2: "Our Main Challenge Was To Convince Fabio Of Our Program And Commitment"

At the Barcelona round of MotoGP, I sat down with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis, ostensibly to talk about the decision by RNF to leave Yamaha and switch to Aprilia for the 2023 season. If you want to read what Jarvis had to say about that, you can read the first part of the interview published yesterday.

After discussing RNF, we moved on to discuss the wider situation with the rider market. Jarvis offered insights into how Yamaha is working with Franco Morbidelli, how surprised he has been by the transformation of Aleix Espargaro into a championship contender, and how Yamaha persuaded Fabio Quartararo to sign on for two more years.

Q: Suzuki’s withdrawal has thrown the rider market to chaos. All of a sudden, Alex Rins, Joan Mir, both top riders, are being discussed as options everywhere. You’ve signed both of your riders for next year, but Franco Morbidelli is not really showing what he showed in previous years. Is there a chance you might let him go? Have you had conversations with Frankie about next year?

Lin Jarvis: No, we have a commitment with Frankie. It’s something we must work on together to get him to rediscover the confidence again with the bike and to be able to perform. So, that’s our mission. In that sense, it’s a bit strange that Frankie has… Last year was not strange because he missed half the season, then he came back. The leg was completely not good. So, it was a very difficult circumstance last year.

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Barcelona MotoGP Saturday Round Up: A Three-Way Battle Against Grip

On Friday, things looked pretty clear. Aleix Espargaro would walk away from his rivals at Barcelona, using the ability of the Aprilia to find grip where there is none – and at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the grip is absolutely terrible – to cruise to his second victory of the season, and of his MotoGP career.

On Saturday, things had changed. We are still on for a race of attrition, a desperate battle to keep your tires in good shape for as long as possible in the hope of wearing down your rivals. Or rather, convincing your rivals to wear down their tires, by pushing a fraction too hard, cracking the throttle a fraction too aggressively, spinning the rear just a tiny amount more than is absolutely necessary. This track eats tires, so the trick is to get your rivals to feed the circuit first.

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Barcelona MotoGP Friday Round Up: How To Go Fast When There Is No Grip, And Why Aprilia are Favorites

Normally after the first day of practice for a MotoGP race, everyone says, "it's only Friday, you can't read too much into the times". But not here. At Barcelona, everyone is asking how they can stop the Aprilias. Aleix Espargaro was fastest on a soft tire and in race trim, and Maverick Viñales was quick over a single lap – his weakness so far with Aprilia - and managed a respectable race pace. If one or both qualify well on Saturday, nobody will see which way they went.

The gap over the rest is impressive. Aleix Espargaro was three tenth faster than his Aprilia teammate, while Viñales was two tenths quicker than Enea Bastianini in third. And that was with Viñales feeling he hadn't get everything possible out of the soft tire he put in at the end of FP2. "When I put the soft, the jump was huge so I didn’t take enough profit of the soft. The difference was very big," the Spaniard told us.

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Massimo Rivola On RNF: Aprilia Plans A Long-Term Partnership With A Junior Team

While rumors that the WithU RNF Yamaha MotoGP team were considering a switch to Aprilia had been circulating for a while, nobody had expected the news to come out in the manner it did. Aprilia Racing rider Aleix Espargaro tweeted a welcome to RNF before FP1 started, and before Aprilia and RNF had intended to announce the news. Though Espargaro's tweet was deleted shortly afterward, it was too late. RNF and Aprilia rushed out press releases announcing the deal.

On Friday evening, MotoMatters.com contributor Niki Kovács and myself, David Emmett, sat down with Aprilia boss Massimo Rivola to find out more about the deal. What goals Aprilia had in signing RNF, how the link up will work, what bikes RNF will have available, and what the rider strategy will be for RNF.

The deal is what both parties have been looking for these past couple of years. RNF has wanted a closer relationship to the factory supplying bikes, while Aprilia has been in search of a satellite squad for the past couple of seasons. Both sides want to create a "Junior Team", in the mold of Pramac Ducati or Tech3 KTM.

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Mugello MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Cream Of MotoGP, Why The Ducati Is Best, Mugello Makes Passing Possible, And The New Marc Marquez

Mugello is a real motorcycle racing track. And on Sunday, it served up a real motorcycle race. After close games of follow-my-leader at Jerez and Le Mans, we had battles, we had passing, we had riders attacking and counterattacking, lining people up to dive underneath, or sweeping out of the slipstream to dive under the rider ahead at Turn 1.

Does this mean MotoGP's overtaking problem has been fixed? Only if we hold an entire season's worth of racing at Mugello and Phillip Island (which doesn't sound like such a terrible idea, to be honest). But it offers hope that when conditions are right, we can see the kind of spectacle which we have come to expect from MotoGP.

Even the atmosphere was good. Sure, the crowd was much thinner on the ground than in previous years – roughly half of what you might expect, making the drive into the track smooth and easy – but they brought the smoke bombs, the passion, the cheering, helped in no small part by the fact that there was an all-Italian front row, and an Italian rider won the Italian Grand Prix on an Italian bike.

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Mugello MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Marc Marquez' Long-Term Decision, The Meaninglessness of Rain Flags, And A Special Day for Italy

Saturday was a celebration of Italian motorcycling. First, there was the retirement ceremony for Valentino Rossi's race number, 46. A peculiar custom, but if we are going to indulge in it, then #46 is the number which deserves it most. The ceremony also raised the biggest cheers of the weekend so far, and created the kind of atmosphere we are used to at Mugello. For a few moments, the crowd felt a little less sparse.

That ceremony came on top of yesterday's proceedings which saw Max Biaggi inducted as a MotoGP Legend, Dorna's equivalent of a hall of fame. The Italian topped that off on Saturday evening by circulating on a soaking wet track on the Aprilia 250 he built his reputation on, and with which he won so many titles.

But the crowning glory of the Italian Grand Prix was a trio of Italian youngsters on the front row of the grid, on a trio of Italian bikes. All three in Italian teams, with both VR46 riders on the front row, on the day that #46 was retired. An Italian rookie taking pole in spectacular style. And to top it off, four Italians in the top five, and six Italian bikes in the top seven.

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Aprilia Extend Contracts With Aleix Espargaro And Maverick Viñales Through 2024

Aprilia have decided on their MotoGP line up for the next two seasons. At Mugello, they announced that they will be keeping Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales for 2023 and 2024.

The announcement does not come as a huge surprise. Despite rumors that Aleix Espargaro had been displeased with the initial offer Aprilia made, the two sides have agreed terms for the next two years. The decision to extend with Maverick Viñales is a decision based more on expectation than current results, as the Spaniard continues to make progress toward being competitive. How much more progress is possible remains to be seen.

The signing of Espargaro and Viñales brings the total number of riders with a contract for next year to six. Marc Marquez, Brad Binder, and Pecco Bagnaia are signed through 2024, while Franco Morbidelli has a contract with Yamaha for 2023.

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